American comedian and actress Ruby Wax appeared at Melbourne’s Art Centre this weekend as part of her ‘Frazzled’ tour. Hannah Jones was there to see the show…
Walking into Melbourne’s Art Centre Play House not knowing what to expect, I came out not only having a much needed laugh throughout the 80 minute show, but also had my eyes opened too.
I gathered from the start of the show that Ruby Wax would be speaking about mental health but I did not realise how open and honest she would be or that she would make it so interesting! I was worried that she would make a ‘joke’ out of mental health initially but soon I relaxed and I was impressed by the way she discussed depression.
Ruby sat comfortably on a grey armchair throughout while referring to questions on a clip-board about issues related to her new book ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled”. Wax answered the questions openly and humorously, explaining how her mother would crawl around on the floor looking for dust and was obsessed with knowing where a particular broom was. The American actress admitted that her own battles with depression throughout her life are probably down to her parents and their own problems.
Many people when talking about their journey with depression and other mental illnesses speak about it very seriously and find it hard to open up to hundreds of strangers, however Wax was able to confidently talk about her own issues and do so in a humorous way so that not only did we laugh with her but we could too see an almost brighter, more positive, side of mental health disorders.
A favourite part of her talk was her recounting an interview with Donald Trump some 10 years earlier. She explained that Trump had mentioned running for President back then and her outraged response to this caused him to get the flight they were on aborted and land.
I also enjoyed, like the rest of the audience it seemed, Wax teaching us some basic mindfulness techniques; drawn from her Oxford University Masters Degree on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. This was very interesting and unexpected in this type of show but went down really positively!
Of course it was not completely serious either. Wax added in much needed humour by telling us to clap our hands slowly, adding that ‘that was not mindfulness, that was clapping’ to which we all howled with laughter.
After Wax had answered the questions relating to her new book and mental health she briefly went off stage before returning (in a different outfit) ready to sit down on a stool in front of the audience for a Q and A session.
Here I got the opportunity to ask her about when she was diagnosed with depression, to which she answered as a child, but this was a time when depression was not officially called this or identified in the same way we diagnose people today.
I also asked her how she is able to speak so openly about her mental health journey. She said that for many years she was unable to speak about her depression for fear of getting sacked, but now she is able to campaign for mental health because she has no fear of losing her job now that she works for herself! The honesty in her answers was refreshing.
Overall I was thoroughly impressed and would really recommend going and seeing this one-woman show. If you have experienced mental illness yourself it is such a motivating and pleasant watch because it is really reassuring to hear someone of such a high profile talking about their own experiences, passing on in-depth knowledge on mental health. As Wax says herself, ‘first fix yourself then fix the world’.